Dear Dr. Gastis - Does my dog need Gastropexy (stomach tacking)?

Gastropexy (also known as stomach tacking) is a preventative measure for bloat. Bloat, also known as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), is a very serious, life-threatening emergency for dogs, with Great Danes being the most common breed affected. Gastropexy is the procedure done to prevent future twisting of the stomach, which is a very serious disease in deep chested dogs. Not every deep chested dog will twist their stomach in their lifetime, but some may. 

The question of whether to perform Gastropexy will be your decision, based on what's involved in doing the surgery. The reality is preventative stomach tacking can seem to be a quick and easy procedure, but it actually is not. For the stomach to adhere to the inside of the ribs where it is sutured, is about an hour-long procedure. After surgery in dogs where we do this as a preventative measure, you have vomiting for up to one week afterwards while healing takes place. Scar tissue must be formed to hold it for the rest of your dogs’ life. 

Even the best technique in the best hands can fail at any point down the line. So yes given what may happen to your dog, it is a few hurdles to get over to do the surgery. As well, where the spay incision is about four to 5 inches long, to do a Gastropexy the incision would have to be 12 inches long and it's in a different part of the abdomen higher up from where the spay incision is done. Where Gastropexy's were very common 5-10 years ago, I have really backed off on doing these because of the intricacies involved and the postoperative care that's needed – often hospitalization for 3 to 5 days to control vomiting until your dog feels better. The specialist referral centre in Vancouver sees exactly these complications and they hospitalize every dog they do for up to one week afterwards as protocol. 

I would be happy to visit with you and talk more about this if you have more questions. I'm very comfortable doing this procedure, however the decision will need to be yours  - and I really want you to know everything involved. 

Your family veterinarian,

Dr. Stacey Gastis